There are lots of ways that a job can become unfulfilling, leading the worker to want out — even for those serving in the U.S. Congress. Surely one of the more surprising of these for a serving member of the House of Representatives, though, is having to answer too many questions about the president, who shares your party. This is the case, however, for Ryan Costello, a retiring Republican congressman who cited questions about Trump as the reason he's declined to run for re-election, according to The Hill.
CNN reported on the dozens of Republican congresspeople who have decided not to run in the 2018 midterm elections, and they spoke to three of them in more depth. One of these was Costello, a moderate Republican from the suburbs surrounding Philadelphia. According to his website, Costello is only in his second term, having been elected in 2014. However, he told CNN that the atmosphere in Washington is just not something that he can continue working in — and that constantly having to face questions about the president is definitely something contributing to his dissatisfaction.
"No matter what I say or do, I feel all I do is answer questions about Donald Trump rather than health insurance or tax policy," Costello told CNN.
"I think it's a very challenging political environment," Costello continued. "And when you add on top of that just the demands from a work-family balance, I just felt it was best for me to take stock in my life and have eight months to decide what I'm going to do next rather than, potentially, six weeks."
He also mentioned the atmosphere in the Trump administration more generally, saying that people "assume that you're not good" once they find out that you're a part of Congress.
"They assume that you're not telling the truth. No matter what you do, someone's out there locked and loaded to say something disparaging, false, mean, in an attempt to have other people not like you," he told CNN.
According to Huffington Post, Costello actually announced his decision to retire back in March, and at that point he didn't mention Trump as a factor in his decision. Instead, he said that the Pennsylvania congressional redistricting ordered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was “the tipping point," The Inquirer wrote. According to that paper, Costello believed that the court decision was politically motivated and would hand the district to the Democrats.
According to Newsweek, though, Trump and the redistricting aren't the only reasons Costello has given as to why he made this decision. Stormy Daniels also figured into it, albeit not by name.
"We’re talking about porn stars and the president rather than about tax policy or what we need to get done by the end of the year or what should have been in the omnibus,” Costello said during an interview with MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt, Newsweek wrote.
Costello is far from the only Republican congressperson to flee rather than run for reelection in 2018, and he's not the only one to say that the president was one of the reasons to leave. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake famously gave a passionate speech that announced his retirement and harshly criticized the president at the same time. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee also announced his retirement after speaking out against the president. Costello, on the other hand, has not been such a vocal critic of the president, and he's voted along with Trump almost 95 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. According to his statements on the matter, though, having to answer for the president's behavior is weighing on him more than his voting record lets on.